BRUNSWICK — Snow was just beginning to fall and Pat Sparks was thinking of Hawaii.

She lived there for six years long ago but said she can access those memories at will when needed.

With the latest monster winter storm preparing to snow her in for 24 hours or more, Sparks said Tuesday morning was as good a time as any.

“I’m a Mainer, so I’m used to this,” she said while sipping coffee and eating a pastry at Wild Oats, a popular café and lunch spot in Brunswick that was one of only a few places open. “But there does reach a point where you say ‘Enough.’”

Maine may be reaching that point.

Even before the latest storm, which was projected to bring up to 2 feet of snow to parts of the state before moving out Wednesday, precipitation has been well above average this year.

According to the National Weather Service, Portland had seen 75.5 inches before Tuesday’s nor’easter, or 23.2 inches more than normal. Bangor, at 86 inches, was 32 inches above the average.

“I wouldn’t say I’m angry or depressed about it, just frustrated,” Sparks said.

Earlier in the morning, downtown Brunswick was quiet. Schools there, like everywhere, had been canceled, and there was an eerie, deserted feeling. Surrender maybe? A resignation that winter had won.

But by midmorning, as snow started falling heavily, traffic seemed to pick up.

Hannah MacKenzie, who drove north to Brunswick from Freeport to have an early lunch before getting snowed in, said she is reaching her breaking point.

“It was only a week or so ago when we could see grass and you start thinking about spring and warmer weather,” she said. “Now we have all this.”

Her lunch partner, John Donohue, was less concerned.

“I love the snow,” he said.

You know those guys you see wearing shorts in the middle of a blizzard? Donohue is one of those guys. Asked if he looked at the forecast and made a conscious decision to wear shorts Tuesday, Donohue laughed. But his rationale makes sense.

“On days like this, everywhere you go inside, the heat is turned up high,” he explained. “I end up getting too hot.”

MacKenzie and Donohue chose Big Top Deli on Maine Street for lunch because they knew it would be open.

“I used to call beforehand, but I don’t have to,” Donohue said. “They are always open.”

Two doors down, Gelato Fiasco opened at 11 a.m. Tuesday as snow began sticking to roads and making conditions hazardous. The popular shop was empty about a half hour after it opened and the clerk said no one had come in yet. Bowdoin College, whose students make up a healthy percentage of the customer base, is on spring break and deserted, so that may have been a factor.

Further down Maine Street, cashiers at the Hannaford supermarket were busy Tuesday morning. Most of the customers looked weary, like they trying to hold it all together.

A mother with two young children pushed her cart slowly down the baking aisle and stopped at the chocolate chips. They were going home to make cookies. Too windy to go sledding, she said.

“There have been a lot of snow days. You need to find ways to keep them occupied,” the mom said.

On the Eastern Promenade in Portland, Frank Cloutier braved the fierce wind to walk his golden-doodle dogs, Kye and Allie.

The flakes stuck in their winter coats, long blonde curls that hung over their faces.

“They love the snow,” Cloutier, 68, said. “They’ve got a long coat. But come next month, I’ll start clipping it down a little bit.”

Cloutier doesn’t love the snow as much as his pets. He owns several properties in Portland and needs to remove the snow after a storm like this one.

“After a while, that gets a little tedious,” he said.

Closer to downtown, a steady stream of disappointed coffee lovers were dismayed to learn that the Starbucks locations on Commercial, Middle and Congress streets all had closed due to the storm.

One man who had walked eight blocks through the snow to get coffees for his wharfside office decided to venture another three blocks up to the Dunkin Donuts at One City Center. The only thing that would make his coworkers angrier than not getting their daily dose of Starbucks’ strongest would be not getting coffee at all, he said.

He even offered to show an out-of-towner who had planned a pre-storm indulgence the way.

“What the hell?” complained Marybeth Benson, who was visiting from Michigan. “This is Maine. I thought coffee shops here would live for days like this, figured out how to turn snow into iced lattes or something.”

In South Portland, a light but icy snow was falling on Joshua Foley as he pulled his 5-year-old daughter, Alice, in a plastic sled along the sidewalk on Cottage Road at 4 p.m. Alice tossed snow clumps up in the air as she sat in the sled, a huge smile on her face. The father and daughter were heeding a sign posted to the door of the nearby David’s 388 restaurant: “Closed tonite, enjoy the storm.”

Foley said the storm seemed “pretty tame” and not as bad as predicted. The roads in his Meetinghouse Hill neighborhood had been plowed and cars were moving easily, and many sidewalks were cleared. So he and Alice decided to take a stroll around. They were headed to a nearby playground and then to a little hill for sledding. Still, like a lot of Mainers, Foley is ready for winter’s end.

“I’m hoping this is the last one. We’re going to attempt our last snow person of the year,” he said.

Back at Wild Oats in Brunswick, customers chatted about the storm, speaking mostly in hyperbole.

“I hope you survive the storm,” one woman said to another, as if there was a chance she wouldn’t.

“I might see you tomorrow,” another said. “It depends on if I can get out of the driveway.”

Inside the bakery, the case of cookies, brownies and other diabetic nightmares remained mostly untouched.

Pat Sparks was finishing her coffee and reading a book.

Between that and memories of Hawaii, she’ll manage the late-winter storm.

Staff Writers Megan Doyle, Penelope Overton and Ray Routhier contributed to this story.

Eric Russell can be contacted at 791-6344 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: PPHEricRussell

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